Supporting the Mekong River Commission in organisational reform

Project description

Title: Transboundary water management with the Mekong River Commission – Component: Supporting the Mekong River Commission in organisational reform
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Viet Nam
Lead executing agency: Mekong River Commission (MRC)
Overall term: 2011 to 2014


The Mekong River Commission (MRC) was established in 1995 with a mandate to manage the Mekong Basin in an integrated and sustainable way. In this work it received substantial support from international donors, especially Germany.

Since then, financial muscle as well as technical and HR capacities have increased in the region. A number of river basin management functions currently fulfilled by the MRC Secretariat can now be performed by the relevant national institutions in the member states. This supports the decision of the member states to achieve full ownership of the MRC by 2030.

Full ownership will require a comprehensive organisational reform process that defines the functions and tasks of the MRC as a river basin organisation, while also clarifying responsibilities and coordinating their implementation at national and regional levels.


The specialist authorities in the MRC member countries have gradually taken over water management functions from the MRC Secretariat; regional water management functions are carried out more efficiently and effectively.


In order to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the MRC in transboundary water management, GIZ is providing comprehensive advisory services for its organisational development and decentralisation. The advice concentrates primarily on establishing a detailed implementation roadmap for the decentralisation. This will define the various river basin management functions of the MRC, the distribution of responsibilities between the MRC Secretariat and the member states, and the procedures for implementing the various functions at national and regional levels. Developing the roadmap also involves analysing existing structures, financing mechanisms and human resources, and taking steps to enhance them if necessary.

The programme also provides the MRC with advice on results-based monitoring systems and the integration of gender issues in its organisational reforms. The process is accompanied by an exchange of experiences with other river basin commissions, international organisations and other stakeholders in transboundary water management.

Results achieved so far

A detailed implementation roadmap for the decentralisation has been developed with the support of GIZ. The first decentralised functions, such as the monitoring of bodies of water and of navigation safety, are currently being handed over to the member states. At the same time, the programme is helping to strengthen the resources and capacities of the MRC Secretariat to perform all the functions that remain centralised, including flood forecasting and the implementation and monitoring of MRC regulations.
A number of proposals for the future financing of MRC have been developed, and potential new models for its organisational structure are also in the pipeline.

Laos.  Building of the MRC Secretariat in Vientiane. © GIZ

This project is a component of the programme

Further information